WILMINGTON - After 100 kilometers of dirt roads, uphill climbs, twisting singletrack downhills, winner Dave Wiens and Ryan Serbel were separated by less than a second for the top spot as they crossed the finish line in the Wilimington-Whiteface 100k mountain bike race Sunday morning.
"You don't often have that in a mountain bike race where you're racing your guts out at the end of the race," Wiens said. "But it came down to these little turns, and I just sprinted my guts out and ended up lucky enough to come in in front of him."
Wiens wound up finishing in 4 hours, 3 minutes and 6.19 seconds, breaking the finish-line tape just ahead of Serbel, who finished in 4:03:06.96.
Winner Dave Wiens finishes ahead of Ryan Serbel on Sunday in the Wilmington-Whiteface 100k mountain bike race.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Rebecca Rusch, who was the top female racer in the Wilmington-Whiteface 100k mountain bike race Sunday, leads a pack over the hill on Styles Brook Road near the Jay Mountain Range.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"I just gave it my all, staying with him on the second time up (the last lap on Whiteface Mountain)," the 25-year-old Serbel said. "I thought if I had anything, I'd attack him a little bit, but no definitely not. For 49, he's still, he still - he's pegging it. He's pretty good."
The Wilmington-Whiteface 100k starts and finishes at Whiteface Mountain, exploring dirt roads near Jay and Saddleback mountains and some off-road singletrack. The race, which attracted more than 300 competitors, is a qualifier for the Leadville 100 in Leadville, Colorado. The 100-mile Leadville race is considered one of the top marathon mountain biking races in the country and was one of the first of its kind when it started in 1994.
A mountain biking hall of famer, Wiens made a name for himself at the Leadville 100 race by winning from 2003 through 2008. He beat Floyd Landis in 2007 and Lance Armstrong in 2008. He lives in Ketchum, Idaho, and helped develop the course for the Wilmington race.
In this race, Wiens not only beat Serbel but also last year's winner Cameron Cogburn, who finished third in 4:06:13.83. Cogburn is a talented cyclist and also a past winner of the Whiteface Uphill Race and Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race. But he has been battling knee tendinitis this season and hadn't been able to train on a mountain bike much recently. He was off his bike completely from June 1 through the 15 and had ridden just a few times since then.
"I was able to keep the fitness up," he said. "Really what hurt me the most was not riding for two weeks. I'm a roady mostly, so I have barely ridden a mountain bike. The course was a little rougher this year and every little descent singletrack I would just get gapped by a minute. I'd always have to keep coming back on the climbs and the road, and yeah, when it ended on this singletrack here, I just had no hope."
This mountain bike race actually caters to cyclists who have a road background like Cogburn and Serbel because of the course.
"This course is very unique," Wiens said. "It's really close to Leadville except Leadville gets sorted out pretty quickly by a climb whereas a big group stays together on this one. But it's truly a road race on mountain bikes. You need a mountain bike because of the Hardy Road trails, this ending bit and the Blueberry Hill trails. Other than that, it's pack racing and it's really compelling. It starts out without much of a climb, so the big group can stay together rolling out of here, so it's a really unique style of racing, and it's special race, for sure. I was stoked to win. I never thought I could have won this race."
Wiens was joined at the podium this year by a familiar face. The top female was Rebecca Rusch, a four-time Leadville winner. She finished in 4:35.56.88 for 24th overall. Last year, Rusch finished second among women after finishing first the year before.
"The fields are getting so much stronger," she said. "Last year, by mile 50, I was with just three or four people. Then this year, at that time, I'm with 25 people and so the fields are just getting stronger and stronger and more competitive. It's really amazing."
Among those in the top 25 this year was Colin Delaney of Lake Placid. Delaney completed the race in 17th with a time of 4:34:32.94 for the top local finish. Delaney, 23, has moved back to the area to train for nordic combined skiing.
"I went out a little hard, up the first climb on Bartlett Road, and then had to take it pretty easy for a while," he said. "Then got my second wind. I felt like I finished pretty strong. I passed two people on the last lap of Whiteface. I was psyched. It was fun."
Delaney's dad, Brian, also competed Sunday. A two-time veteran of the 100k race, Brian Delaney had signed up for the 100k this year but decided to compete in the 50k Sunday after waking up feeling a bit tired.
He took eighth overall in the 50k, finishing in 2:14:34.11. That was good for tops in his age class of 50-59.
"The nicest thing about the Leadville event is that it's a fun-filled family weekend," the 58-year-old said. "Kids, families can come out. Everyone is having a blast, especially with the weather but Whiteface did a great thing here with having a free day with the adventure park."
The 50k was won this year by Steve Pasche, of Decorah, Iowa, who finished in 1:48:35. He was followed by Rosanne VanDorn of Lake Placid, who had a time of 2:01:28.60. Melissa Seib of Byrant Pond, Maine, was third in 2:03:17.31.